There it is, the Atlantic Ocean, that wet sopping pond that bares my historical acumen (Atlantic Studies). And it’s warm!!! So of course total immersion – as in me in the sea.

Which is what good historians do…total and complete immersion in their research. Which is also the way I’d like to teach it, to have students try their hand at immersion, to think like, write like, and see the world via the mind of a historian.

The view from my hotel room in Mayport Naval Station, Florida.

But this is pretty hard to do when you teach out at sea aboard a navy warship. Sailors need to be immersed in their duties, not Clio’s musings.

Still, there are some skills that I believe are worth transferring. First and foremost: reading retention. College throws a whole lot of reading material your way, and the best way to deal with the plethora of chapters, tomes, and other assorted word-driven texts is to find ways to manage that avalanche of information. Remembering what one read is the basis, the foundation to learning; it is a building block toward understanding whatever it is one’s studies.

Synthesizing and analyzing come next. Once you start remembering “stuff” you read, the brain begins to kick it around. Learning what to look for, how to look, utilizing inference, finding flaws in arguments, basic scrutinizing (and advanced), all this comes into play. I think I can still do this out at sea when I teach U.S. naval personnel some American History. A mega limitation comes into play, however: the lack of reading material other than a textbook. So this is going to take a bit of ingenuity on my part. I’ll have to meet with the ESO (Education and Safety Officer) aboard ship and go over this, to see what my resources are.

The ESO is going to hear a bit from me about writing as well, the last component of playing historian. We’ll have to discuss what printing resources – if any – are available aboard ship.

Well, that’s it for now. Hope to update soon!

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